FORT MILL — Former Fort Mill Mayor Charles Powers, who survived being shot six years ago in “a miracle,” is recovering from surgery after having part of a cancerous lung removed.
Powers, 74, said Thursday he expects a full recovery.
In the days since returning home, he said, he has received “an unbelievable amount of support from the people of this great Town of Fort Mill.”
The surgery has affected his appetite, Powers said, but he is continuing to work toward a full recovery.
“I have a lot of living left in me,” said Powers, Fort Mill’s mayor for 25 years until he lost his final bid for re-election in 2007.
Interstate 77’s Exit 83 – the Sutton Road interchange in Fort Mill – is named for Powers. He has been awarded the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest civilian honor, and he led the delegation welcoming President Bill Clinton to Fort Mill in 1994.
He is retired after decades of work at a power plant contracting company that served the AbitibiBowater plant in Rock Hill.
“Charles Powers is a great fella, and he did a great job for Fort Mill for so long,” said Bayles Mack, a friend for more than five decades and the town’s former attorney.
Powers, a town councilman before he was elected mayor, lost to Mayor Danny Funderburk in 2007, but he had a legendary run as a hands-on mayor who prided himself on friendliness and availability to the public. He was called “Charlie” by all.
But on Feb. 5, 2008 – just a month after leaving office – that generosity of spirit almost cost Powers his life.
Convicted serial shooter and robber Phillip Watts shot Powers in the face at the John Boy’s Valero Store in Fort Mill. Powers, who was leaving the store at the time, held the door for Watts, thinking he was just another customer.
Powers even told Watts to have a nice day.
Watts then held a pistol to Powers’ temple, but the gun slid down the side of his face, and when Watts pulled the trigger, the bullet went through Powers’ cheeks.
Powers has often called what happened a “miracle” that could have been deadly.
“I survived that,” he said, “I will survive what I am facing now.”
Andrew Dys • 803-329-4065